Author (s): Beatrice Abila and Jussi Kantola
Type of Publication: Article
Date of Publication: 2013
The problem of waste management is a primordial and present issue in developing countries in Africa, particularly Nigeria. Municipal waste management problems in Nigeria cut across concerns for human health, air, water, and land pollution among others. The analysis of the key problem affecting the efficient management of municipal waste is critical for evolving a workable solution in an emerging economy like Nigeria.
The continuous indiscriminate disposal of municipal solid waste is accelerating and is linked to poverty, poor governance, urbanization, population growth, poor standards of living, and low level of environmental awareness and inadequate management of environmental knowledge. Most of these wastes are generated from domestic sources and are mostly characteristics of household waste . The persisting problems of municipal waste management in Nigeria prompt the need for communicating innovations and knowledge to achieve desire transformation in overcoming socio-economic and environmental challenges.
Different approaches and interventions have been developed in the past for tackling municipal waste concerns with little or no progress. Managing municipal waste efficiently requires intensification and application of knowledge management tools that guarantee sustainable environment and socio-economic growth. “Municipal solid waste management is an important part of urban infrastructure that ensures the protection of environment and human health”.
Knowledge management is a broad term that requires systematic efforts of an organization to manage its personnel knowledge through a broad range of direct and indirect methods such as specific types of ICT, management of social processes, structuring of organizations in a particular pattern or via the use of particular culture and people management practices.
The paper attempts a synthesis of problems associated to municipal solid waste management and propose a conceptual knowledge management approach for tackling municipal solid waste problems in Nigeria. For an in depth understanding of these issues and solutions, the article covers the existing management of municipal solid waste, municipal waste policies and regulations, problems affecting municipal waste management, knowledge management challenges relating to municipal solid waste, proposed knowledge management solutions and conclusion.
Existing Waste Management Processes and Practices in Nigeria
Municipal waste management is the collective process of sorting, storage, collection, transportation, processing, resource recovering, recycling and disposal of waste. In Nigeria, wastes are usually dumped on roadsides, available open pits, flowing gully water and drainage channels. The indiscriminate disposal of municipal waste is increasingly a prominent habit in most urban cities of Nigeria.
Unlike urban cities, in rural communities municipal solid waste quantity are less and managed in household backyards by burning, composting, as feeds to animals and occasionally disposed at dump sites. In Nigeria the processes involved in the management of waste are, storage, collection, transportation and disposal at dumpsites.
There are different techniques of municipal solid waste disposal but the common techniques are landfill, incineration, composting and anaerobic digestion and recycling. Although presently in Nigeria the prominently practiced municipal waste management technique is open dumping, land fill, followed by open burning while incineration method is seldom put to practice. Incineration is a cost-effective municipal waste disposal option which is seldom applied in Nigeria hospitals where medical waste are incinerated at a minimal scale.
The cheapest and simplest method of waste disposal is landfill. The resulting environmental impact of landfills is enormous but could be mitigated provided sanitary precautions are undertaken and waste reduction is advocated. Landfills were responsible for 49% of England’s methane emissions in 2007. Moreover, recycling which is an environmentally friendly option is not fully adopted. There are no formal recycling sectors in Nigeria. Waste are recycled informally by scavengers who buy un-use valuables from people and also go to legal and illegal dumpsites in search of materials that than can be re-use and recycled.
Municipal Solid Waste Generation
25 million tonnes of municipal solid waste are generated annually in Nigeria and the waste generation rates ranged from 0.66kg/cap/d in urban areas to 0.44kg/cap/d in rural areas as opposed to 0.7-1.8kg/cap/day in developed countries. There is a continuous increase of municipal solid waste production by households, educational institutions, commercial institutions, and among others.
In Nigeria, municipal waste generators include household, commercial, industrial, agricultural and institutional establishments and among others. The quantity and composition of waste generated vary from urban areas to rural areas and likewise from state to state. Waste generated is directly proportional to population, socio-economic status and level of urbanization, hence the quantity of waste generated varies from state to state and also increases per year. Also the composition of waste generated per state is a function of the socio economic status, industrialization and commercialization. This is linked to urbanization and socioeconomic growth.
Waste Management Policies and Regulations
The Federal Government of Nigeria enacted Decree number 58 for the establishment of a Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) on 30th December 1988 to achieve a set of goals. In Nigeria waste management is among the very core management of the local government, state government and federal government. Moreover, at the state levels – the state environmental protection agencies and state waste management agencies are in charge of municipal waste management. Presently wastes are managed by each state environmental protection agency and state waste management agencies in urban cities and big towns in Nigeria.
Factors Affecting Municipal Waste Management and Knowledge Management Linkages
The problem militating municipal waste management in Nigeria are diverse and numerous; and according to these problems are related to economical, technological, psychological and political aspects in Nigeria. These problems vary from poor funding, poor legislation and implementation of policy, Limited infrastructures and professionals, level of awareness, poor recovery and recycling programme, and disposal technique.
Knowledge Management Challenges in Municipal Waste Management in Nigeria
- Cultural Belief: Wastes are viewed as an invaluable and useless materials rather than wealth. Wastes are not seen as valuable materials that can be recycled for actual use, material recovery and energy recovery.
- Communication Channels: Communication channels such as mass media and posters are often adopted in the transfer of new information rather than the face to face which involves one on one practical interaction process.
- Collaboration with International Solid Waste Management Organization/Agencies: The existence of limited collaboration with International Solid Waste Management organizations impedes rapid sustainable development within the Waste sector.
- Centralized Waste Collection Containers: In Nigeria centralized municipal storage containers are not in place. This presents the municipalities with placement challenges of sorted and recycled materials of different categories.
- Packaging and Product Producer Involvement: The involvement of packaging producer in the management of waste is limited. Producers’ interests are mainly in the production of content packages rather than the management of these packages.
- Personnel Morale: Field workers in charge of waste collection and transportation often have low morale. Their performance is determined with the extent of stigmatization encountered on the job, poor remuneration and stagnant promotion.
Proposed Knowledge Management Solutions
The presentation of knowledge management solutions in the management of municipal waste in this context is not only in terms of technology centered approach but rather a people centered approach.
In Nigeria Cultural belief is a major barrier to efficient waste management. Conclusively, the focus of municipal solid waste management should not only be technology centered strategies but also people centered.
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